Are there any spiders in Ohio or Illinois that can hurt me? My arachnophobia is more a 'what if it bites me and my arm rots off' phobia; I'm cool around spiders I know can't hurt me, esp ones behind glass, but I don't know what can hurt me so I'm afraid of all free roaming spiders
There are really only four known groups of spiders with medically significant venom- the rest can’t do much worse than a bee sting. (Of course, some individuals can have allergic reactions to spider venom, just like bee stings.)
These four groups are: the widows (Latrodectus sp.), the brown spiders (Loxosceles sp.), the Australian funnel web spiders (Atraxus sp.), and the Brazilian wandering spiders (Phoneutria sp.).
Black widows are found across the U.S. and in parts of Africa, Europe, and Asia. Despite their reputation, most black widow bites are harmless. Many are dry, with no venom injected, and about 75% of those that do contain venom only produce localized pain with no other symptoms.
Occasionally, more severe symptoms do develop in the form of latrodectism. This can cause symptoms such as generalized pain, headache, nausea, sweating, and racing heart. Most of these symptoms resolve within a week and for more severe cases, an antivenom is available. There has only been one death recorded from a black widow bite in US in the last 50 years, and it was an elderly man. Several thousand people in the US get bitten by black widows every year without suffering any major ill effects.
The brown spiders include the brown recluse spider, famed for its necrotizing bite. However, as with the black widow, the deadliness of this spider has been greatly exaggerated. Like the black widow, brown spiders are found worldwide. Also like the black widow, their bites are often venom-free, and even envenomated bites produce nothing more than mild irritation.
Here’s a map of where brown spiders are found in the US:
The brown recluse is very rare in Ohio specifically, so you don’t have much to worry about.
Bites with high concentrations of brown recluse venom can produce a necrotic skin lesion that is slow to heal. About 66% of these lesions heal on their own without complications. Those that do not may require skin grafts or corrective surgery. A systemic response, which is the response that may become fatal, occurs in about 1% of bite victims. In the last decade there have been two recorded fatalities from brown recluse bites, and both were young children. And as a matter of fact, there are no confirmed reports of a necrotizing bite leading to amputation.
Interestingly enough, there are lots of reports of brown recluse “bites” from states where there are no brown recluse spiders. Spiders often get blamed for symptoms that come from everything from lyme disease to lymphoma. My state is not within the brown recluse range and I’ve still heard stories from a number of people who insist they were bitten by the spider.
Australian funnel web spiders are found, obviously, in Australia- specifically along the eastern coast. While it is suggested that these spiders are more likely to give “wet” bites than the others on this list, there have been no recorded fatalities from their bites in Australia since 1981!
Brazilian wandering spiders are found in parts of Central and South America and are the most venomous spider on this list. This venom, among other things, may give you a lasting erection, which is why some pharmaceutical companies are researching it for use in erectile dysfunction drugs. These spiders are the famed “banana spiders” because they have been found on shipments of bananas outside of South/Central America; however, there are only seven actual recorded cases of this happening. Only about 2.3% of wandering spider bites are medically significant, and again, there have been very few deaths attributed to them.
Spiders, by and large, do not pose a threat to you anywhere in the world.
I’ve had this shot in my head for a long time. It was such a treat to finally be able to work with some of these lovely spiders. I have much respect for them and what their venom is capable of, but they are also shy and docile, preferring to run rather than bite. I feel that they are one of the most misunderstood animals out there, and for that alone, they have my heart.
Loxosceles reclusa, the Brown Recluse. Nature’s Scapegoat.
Given that I am about to post a series of articles on spider behavior this month, I thought I’d go ahead and share some resources for those of my followers who suffer from arachnophobia. While it can be a severe and debilitating phobia, it is also highly treatable and it’s fully possible to treat it in just a few therapy sessions.
Phobia Free iOS app: this app has you play games with gradually more realistic virtual versions of spiders as a form of exposure therapy.
Finally, if you have an especially severe case of arachnophobia, consider consulting a therapist. There are several drugs that have been proven effective in treating arachnophobia if used along with therapy.
It’s completely okay to be nervous or uncomfortable around spiders. A few of them can hurt you. However, if fear of spiders is adversely affecting your life, please know that there are plenty of ways to get help!